My Monday blog

John Kelly

Born Gambler
Staff member
My two sisters drove me crazy last week.

Their television viewing habits leave a lot to be desired.

When I mentioned watching "The Price Is Right" causes viewers to lose brain cells, one sister -- intent on hearing host Drew Carey's instructions to a contestant -- barely took her attention off the television to respond, "Is that right?"

The other sister totally ignored my comment and offered her guess for the first of two showcases.

"$16,500," she blurted out.

I thought to myself that's the amount needed to cover a $15,000 wager at odds of 11/10.

My sisters and I were raised under the same roof but we live in completely different worlds.

Of course, my sisters don't appreciate my use of the remote control, either.

"Quick Pitch" on MLB Network, WNBA games on NBA TV, round-the-clock replays of preseason games on NFL Network and Australian horse races from Flemington on TVG do not appeal to them.

So it came with great delight last week when I sat down for breakfast with Arturo O'Connor (aka Viejo Dinosaur) at the Sheraton Hotel in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Dedicated gamblers appreciate fellow punters who possess the same or similar spirit.

Especially a lifelong gambler like Arturo whose mother took him to the racetrack at age 9, who spent most of the 1980's cutting his teeth in Las Vegas and who witnessed the advent of the offshore sports betting industry in 1988 with a move to the Dominican Republic for a company then called Information Unlimited.

Arturo knows the sports betting game from the front of the counter to behind the counter and everywhere in between.

He most recently served a four-year stint at Grande working for Skip.

(Editor's note: Last names are optional in the bookmaking business because most big-time operators covet their privacy and view transparency only as a negative)

A bookmaker's reputation is everything and fast payouts make for fast friends and loyal customers.

Arturo preaches integrity and monitors bookmakers who pay and those who don't.

Bookmakers with excellent character and long-term trust are honored and revered by Arturo, but he has little or no use for bookmakers employed by giant gaming companies.

"Today's corporate bookmakers are merely bean counters," explained the veteran gaming observer.

"Don't get me wrong, though. They'll win money for the companies who hire them. However, they will never maximize the company's potential earnings with all their conservative rules and regulations."

"When we started in the offshore sports betting industry, we were way ahead of most sports bettors."

Arturo was answering phones before the point-and-click world of the computer and phone apps.

He said he would know what the recreational gambler was going to bet before they even called out the wager.

"We never worried about the small stuff, wagers of $50 or $100, but we charted every wager of $1,000 or more."

Arturo continued, "The Internet was actually a double-edged sword. It allowed us to reach a much larger audience but it also educated the masses."

He then turned his attention to today's changing landscape.

"It's great to see the sweeping legalization of sports betting across the United States."

He concluded, "The more players, the bigger the handle, the better for everyone who has a stake in the industry."

CAIN IS ABLE.....I met former Arizona State basketball player Kyle Cain last Friday afternoon at the local gym in my hometown of Calumet City, Illinois.

Cain, who played for Herb Sendek earlier this decade, still had all the moves of a quality hoopster at age 28.

He stopped by Sandridge Rec Center to help his six-year-old son work on some of the game's fundamentals.

Cain is a lanky 6-foot-7 lefty with the ability to run better than most little men and dribble better than most big men.

His wingspan, measuring only a half-inch short of seven feet, serves as both a blessing and a curse.

The long-armed Cain could snare rebounds in traffic and his long limbs, together with a solid work ethic, led to excellent ballhandling skills for a player his size.

The problem for Cain: An inconsistent outside shot where long arms made it difficult to consistently repeat his shooting motion.

It's the same problem encountered by NBA stalwart Giannis Antetokounmpo, who today would dominate every player in the game if only he had the ability to regularly hit an open jumper.

Long-armed athletes like Kevin Durant (a natural) and Kawhi Leonard (a hard-worker) are reliable shooters from 15-24 feet, ranking them ahead of "The Greek Freak"on the NBA superstar scale.

(Sidenote: Hall-of-Fame pitcher Randy Johnson struggled early in his career with control problems due to his 6-foot-10-inch frame and inability to repeat his delivery.)

But my new friend, Kyle Cain, never made a penny playing NBA basketball despite dreaming of the pro game and skipping his senior season at North Carolina-Greensboro.

Cain declared early for the NBA Draft after averaging 15.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a game during the 2013-14 NCAA season, his best college numbers after transferring from Arizona State.

After going undrafted in 2014, he played briefly in France and Switzerland before giving up on his basketball career.

Cain started 72 of 89 NCAA games in which he appeared over three seasons, two at ASU and one at UNCG.

"My biggest regret," he said, "was never competing in the NCAA Tournament."

Cain continued, "Arizona State recruited me to replace James Harden but they didn't hire my high school coach like they did with James."

Cain shared a funny story about Herb Sendek whose homemade 2-1-2 zone defense with man-to-man principles required countless hours of study and preparation.

Cain cracked, "Sendek's defense confused us more than it did the opponent."

Sendek is entering his fourth season as head coach of Santa Clara University.

The most sobering part of our exchange came when his current employment status was addressed.

"I'm looking to acquire my CDL license and possibly drive a bus or a truck," he said.

Sadly put, for every LeBron James or Steph Curry, there are thousands of Kyle Cains.
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A high school friend of mine dreamed of becoming a professional golfer playing the Canadian tour for four years and mini tours in Florida
but after struggling to earn enough to survive, and with a pregnant girlfriend, he shelved his aspirations and became a driver with FedEx and it all worked out for him, with a steady job, and overtime he has comfortably raised two children.

Cain’s long arms would be a great asset as a FedEx courier driver. Just saying.

John Kelly

Born Gambler
Staff member
There seems to be a stigma surrounding college players who transfer schools.

It's hard to find quality NBA players who attended more than one college.

The most famous transfer of all is Larry Bird, who transfered from Indiana to Indiana State.
Thinking back Lamar Odom transferred a few times and still had a decent NBA career....he was even on the Las Vegas Rebel team but never played a minute...was arrested in LV for soliciting when he tried to play for Rebels....

John Kelly

Born Gambler
Staff member
Lamar Odom was forced to sit out a season after UNLV booster David Chapman was caught paying him $5,600 under the table.

As VD mentioned, Odom never suited up for the Rebels.

He was a one-and-done player at Rhode Island.

Odom was productive in the NBA averaging more than 13 points a game over 14 NBA seasons.

Off-the-court success?

Not so much.
Lamar Odom was forced to sit out a season after UNLV booster David Chapman was caught paying him $5,600 under the table.

As VD mentioned, Odom never suited up for the Rebels.

He was a one-and-done player at Rhode Island.

Odom was productive in the NBA averaging more than 13 points a game over 14 NBA seasons.

Off-the-court success?

Not so much.
Claim to fame was banging one of the Kardashian sisters...

John Kelly

Born Gambler
Staff member
Lamar is lucky to be alive after being left for dead at the Love Ranch in Crystal, Nevada.

After the incident, Lamar labeled himself a "walking miracle" who cheated death.